Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A Tale of Two Lunches

We are quite blessed in the UK these days with the variety of lunch options in many of our towns and cities. We have welcomed the midday offerings of other nations, adapted them and made them our own. But we also still like a good British pie, fry-up or sandwich with salad cream. Here are a couple of contrasting places on either side of the Pennines.

La Bottega Milanese, Leeds
La Bottega Milanese sits squarely in the new, modern Britain category. It’s a Milanese coffee bar transplanted to the Calls in Leeds. Sandwiches are made to order on ciabatta or focaccia, coffee is an art form and cakes are supplied by Anthony’s.
On today’s visit I ordered a Milanese on ciabatta (parma ham, rocket, mayo, parmesan, olive oil, lemon – I think) and a slice of torta della nonna (Grandma’s cake). Nice piggy ham and peppery rocket, and a light, fresh ciabatta made for a good sandwich. Possibly a bit stingy with the filling but that’s a minor complaint from a greedy person.

The cake (not one of the Anthony's supplied ones) was very good. It’s a sort of thick custard tart garnished with pine nuts. Fairly plain and simple but I mean that as a compliment, it’s nice to have something more restrained with a cup of tea instead of the increasingly prevalent sugar and icing bomb American style sweet things (not that I don’t love cupcakes sometimes...). The pastry was good too.

I can’t comment on the coffee, as I rarely drink it (caffeine doesn’t like me) but given their enthusiasm for the stuff I’m sure it’s great.
At £3 for the sandwich and £2 for the cake it’s good value for quality ingredients in a city centre location. It wasn’t very busy when I was in there (about 12.30 pm so peak lunchtime) so I hope they’re doing a good trade. Please go – we want places like this in Leeds doing well.

32 The Calls

La Bottega Milanese on Urbanspoon

Pat’s Place Cafe, Knowsley Industrial Estate
Pat’s cafe has its steel toe-capped boots firmly in the traditional camp. If you spend your days in a hard hat engaged in robust industrial toil (just like me obviously) then this is the place for you. Situated on Knowsley Industrial Estate, an outpost of genuine heavy industry, it offers up fry-ups, pie dinners, toasties, chips and sandwiches (salad is available) to the masses. When I’m feeling healthy sandwiches are the way to go, but at other times it has to be a pie dinner. £2.50 will get you a choice of pie, with chips, peas and gravy.
It’s usually pretty good but last Friday it was strangely disappointing. The chips were soggy and they were out of peas. Usually the chips are fried to a good crisp and not at all greasy. The pies are of reasonable quality, and definitely contain genuine meat. I like the Steak and Pepper best. There was a photo but it's gone missing; - think pie & chips, covered in gravy, in a polystyrene tray.
On the off chance anyone reading this spends time in the area, you could do much worse for your lunch than Pat's. Not that it needs a recommendation, it’s always rammed.

5/10 (recent visit)
7/10 (most other visits)

Pat's Place Cafe
Charley Wood Road
Knowsley Industrial Estate

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